Most 12-year-olds are happy going school, playing sports, and hanging out with their friends, but Marley Dias is not your average 12 year old. Frustrated with the lack of diversity in her school’s summer reading list, the New Jersey tween launched her #1000BlackGirlBooks social media campaign in November 2015 with the hope of finding and donating 1,000 books featuring black girls as the main character. Less than two years later, Dias’ small town project has grown into an international movement that has collected some 9,500 children’s books for communities in need and landed the aspiring journalist with her very own book deal.
In a recent interview with Chicago’s Windy City LIVE, the incredibly articulate student and activist spoke about the catalyst that sparked #1000BlackGirlBooks.
12-year-old Marley Dias is the social activist behind #1000BlackGirlBooks, a movement to collect and donate children's books that feature black girls as the lead character.For more information on how to help donate to Marley's movement, visit:http://grassrootscommunityfoundation.org/1000-black-girl-books-resource-guide/
Posted by Windy City LIVE on Tuesday, June 6, 2017
“In my fifth grade class, I wasn’t seeing black girls’ stories being reflected,” she shared. “I knew that kids in my school, they might not always be able to see themselves as characters that are important, as things that are valued in their school system, so I decided to collect 1,000 books where black girls are the main characters.”
But the now viral campaign wasn’t an immediate success. Dias admitted that she initially struggled to reach her 1,000 book goal, but in harnessing the power of social media she was able to meet and exceed her wildest expectations.
“I thought, ‘There was no way in the world I am going to get this done. There’s no way this is possible,’” she said. “But through social media… I’ve been able to use the things I enjoy and the things I use to help other people.”
An avid reader, Dias laments the negative associations so many kids have with the pastime because reading is often considered a form of punishment instead of fun hobby.
“That puts a negative connotation to something that could help you a lot,” she said, before adding that reading opens the door to words and ideas that may not have ever been realized otherwise.
“Reading gives you words,” Dias explained. “Through the books that you read… you are able to express [your] feelings in a more clear and articulate way.”
Dias is currently working on her first book, Marley Dias Gets It Done And So Can You, in partnership with Scholastic. Due out in January 2018, the book is meant to inspire children to pursue their passions while helping others.
“[It] is a guide for kids my age and older to use their gifts and talents and the things that they enjoy doing to help their community,” she said, “and make their world a better place, like I did, in their own unique ways.”
On Tuesday, the busy 12-year-old was honored at the annual Forbes’ Women Summit in New York City, where she shared her theory that the best innovation comes from recognizing a problem and figuring out a way to solve it.
“Frustration is fuel that can lead to the development of an innovative and useful idea,” she said. “Innovation comes from, one, acknowledging yourself; two, studying and understanding the problem and three, finding a solution. It’s a typical adventure in a hero story, which I now live today.”
Learn more about #1000BlackGirlBooks HERE.